chasing ghosts

chapter three

We sit in a booth in some dingy, small town diner. A waitress brings our order as we sit in silence. She glances from one to the other of us. I think she wants to say something, but Guy has a pretty fussy look on his face. She’s a good waitress. She leaves our food and skedaddles. A burger with fries, two eggs over easy and toast, and a side salad with French dressing are sit in front of Guy. He is already sucking on the straw to a large chocolate milkshake with whipped topping and sprinkles. The waitress leaves me a BLT with a side of fruit cocktail. 

Realizing she has left without kissing his ass, Guy yells after her, “Hey! Can I get a Coke!” Then he starts wolfing down his burger.

“Her name isn’t ‘Hey.’”

“What is her name, Smartass?”

Her name is Irene.”

“Irene, huh?”

I say it quietly to myself. I know he hears, but he doesn’t say anything when I say, “And my name is Colleen.” I notice that our names rhyme, me and Irene, but I don’t point that out to him. I give myself some credit for not pointing out the rhyme. It all makes me smile, and I pick up the top of my sandwich to put mustard on it.

“What is that?” Guy asks in a way that makes me not want to answer.

I brace myself, “It’s a BLT.”

“Where’s the bacon?”

“I don’t like bacon.”

“Who doesn’t like bacon? Nevermind. Whatever. How ‘bout why would you order a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwichif you don’t like bacon?”

The waitress returns and drops off Guy’s Coke. She looks at me, not him, when she asks, “Is everything okay?”

“There isn’t any bacon on her BLT.”

I shoot a glare at Guy and then offer a smile to Irene. “Thank you. Everything is terrific.”

Guy ignores me and says to our waitress, “Irene, what did you do with the bacon from her BLT? Who gets it? Am I still getting charged for that bacon?”

“I will go check on that for you, sir.” Irene turns and walks away. Like I said, she’s a good waitress. A smart one.

Guy eats the other half of his burger in one bite and says with a mouthful of barely chewed meat, “I don’t like her.”

“She can tell you’re not going to tip her.”

“What? I don’t look like a high roller?”

I shrug. “Whether you roll high or not has nothing to do with it. You’re a narcissistic sadist. And narcissistic sadists don’t usually tip well.”

“Sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy to me. You don’t think a guy will tip well so you act all snooty to him. I suppose I could stiff her…if that’s what she wants.” Just like a narcissistic sadist to not even acknowledge I’ve called him a narcissistic sadist.

“She only gets paid like two bucks an hour. She lives off of her tips. Not that you care.”

“What? Are you an advocate for waitresses now…or maybe you are a waitress yourself?”

“I’m just saying you shouldn’t punish her for the system she works in.”

Guy sits back, looking down his nose at me. “One, Colleen, I’m not punishing her for the system she works in. I’m punishing her for being a snooty bitch. And two. You are a waitress, aren’t you?” He pauses here, trying not to grin. He is enjoying this too much. Narcissistic sadist. He pauses—to make me sweat a little—before he asks, “Do you wear a nametag? Do you keep pens in your hair and sweaty dollars down your cleavage?” Another sadistic pause before he goes in for the kill. “Does mother know?”

I don’t answer him. It wouldn’t do any good.

“That’s okay, sis. We all have to slum it sooner or later. Nothing to be ashamed of.”

“Don’t worry. I’m not ashamed of anything. And you know what. Not that it will shut you up or anything. But I really don’t want to talk to you anymore.”

Guy has done everything but lick his plate clean. He’s looking all pleased with himself. “Buck up, baby. I’m all you got right now. Looks like it’s my way or the highway.”

“I’ll take the highway.”

“Funny,” he says as he stands up. “Let’s get rolling.”

I don’t jump when he says jump. I don’t move at all. He doesn’t like it when things don’t go how he wants them to. He wants to make his grand exit, and I’m fucking that up for him. I don’t know what I’m doing. I just hate him right now. It won’t do any good. He will win, but I can at least piss him off. Still.

“This is not the time or the place, Collie. Let’s go.” He reaches down and grabs me by the arm to pull me out of the booth. I watch as some of the others turn to gawk. This makes it worse for me. Worse for everyone, probably. Sometimes I don’t care. But I probably should.

Irene tries to come to my rescue…or maybe she’s realized Guy is trying to leave without paying. “Hey!” she calls out. Then over her shoulder towards the kitchen, “Clay! Get out here!”

Hey and Clay rhyme too, I think as I let Guy push me out the front door.

“Just a minute, Irene,” Guy hollers back at her. Then, to me, with his bedroom eyes turned to snake eyes, he says, “You wait in the car. I mean it. Don’t fuck yourself here. Get. To. The. Car.”

He leaves me standing in the parking lot. I can see shadows past where the sun reflects on the glass windows. I hear angry voices. I almost go back in. But I can’t do it. I find myself walking to the car, closing my ears to the sounds that will only haunt me more. I put my earbuds in and turn my music up loud. “Come on Eileen” helps me to lose my brain to the thoughts that pummel me from all directions, my fears and my worries. But I still manage to note to myself that Eileen also rhymes with Irene…and Colleen.

what now?

i was thinking about how i am reluctant
to sketch more ponies
right now
even though i think
i do a good job of it
& it might have more mass appeal…
i think back to that art professor
who was all like
yeah
but what do you
really
want to be doing?

what
do
i
really
want
to
be
doing?

creating stories with my drawings
telling stories
crafting worlds
& characters
merging my art & writings
in the most perfect way
possible.

drawing these pictures,
i wondered, who are they?
what do they want?
what would i do if i set them
free?

quixotic updates

i am working on this new ink on canvas tentatively titled “foxy.” i really like working on canvas & now that i am down to my last free canvas, i am thinking of buying more for future creations.
that bunny keeps hopping into my art lately. i have even started a children’s book starring him.
fun fact. after i wrote the text for said children’s book, i went to my sun porch, looked out the window, and watched three bunnies eating dandelions in my backyard. i stood & watched for at least ten minutes. if you have never watched a bunny eat a dandelion, you are totally missing out.

in other news, i went through all my journals looking for “fodder” for books & stories. i have decided to focus on one project at a time instead of being easily distracted & starting new projects without finishing old ones. after the children’s book illustrations are done, i will focus on finishing the text & doing illustrations for my novel, a better life through sock puppets.
i am trying to give myself credit for what i have achieved. i let myself be proud of the fact that i found so many random ideas & sketches worth working with! including the above gem from 2016.

so i am not moping. i am rebuilding that fucking tower & giving myself credit for doing a good job with it.
as they say in my home state of wisconsin–forward!

notta not-a-boy page four

i got a fourth page written in record time!
in my defense, the way i do comics does take time.
especially when i am procrastinating…erm…percolating a story in my head.

and in case you are having trouble picturing the notta in me…this is 30 years ago at age 22:

notta not-a-boy page three

okay. another month with only one page to show for it! my tarot cards keep telling me not to waste a gift. is it pretentious of me to assume they are talking about all the awesome comics that i am not getting written?

feral

i have been enjoying doing ink on canvas. it is a different process. i have to think more about what i am doing. i guess i’m exercising a new part of my art brain.
this one was inspired by a journal page. i’m not exactly sure what is going on. i keep staring at it & trying to figure the story out.
my art is always always always about the story.
speaking of which. i have been doing some brainstorm doodling. i am on the verge of a new comic (that might be a mishmash of many other ideas from other stories playing in my head these past seven years.) right now it is percolating…& doodling….

up top: “veronica”
16×20 inking on canvas
$200 plus shipping

moving forward

so i finished an ink on canvas piece. it took a bit. i think i like it?

i also have been playing with tea staining my paper.

and thinking about future pieces. like the story about “bluejean & the moonfish” which these inkings are kind of exploring for character development of bluejean. i have been playing with this character since a watercolor course at uw madison in 2014. one of these days i will get her off the ground.

& i continue to mess around with “notta not-a-boy” while mulling over the final page (for now) of moses jones.

and don’t forget my novel in progress…i’m at 41,331 words.

up top: sea garden
ink on canvas
$200 (ish?)

tea-stains: guardian dear & character study
ink on water color paper 8X10
$45

trying new things

are we just bundles
of cells
hurtling through space
on some rock
whose movements
are all do to an attraction
to a ball of gas?
or is there
more….

crisis of faith. right? who’s with me? but if i don’t believe in something greater than myself…what then? it doesn’t help that i have at least two nihilistic little anarchists running around my house declaring there is no point to it all.

fuck a duck.

i am playing around with ink on canvas as i feel my scorpio’s need to keep on growing & transforming. i have a huge (like 3′ X 4′?) sized canvas i want to do a mural on. but first i am practicing on some canvases i have been hauling around with for almost 20 years.

also, i am going to write one (or two) more pages of moses jones before putting her away. i don’t know if she is done or not, but i want to focus on other projects so i am bringing her to a stopping point so i can move on.

there are a number of projects always whirling around in my brain. i think i need to just throw a dart, pin one down, and get busy.

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